– The Rams officially opened their 2013 training camp on Thursday afternoon with picture perfect weather under sunny skies with temperatures hovering around 80 degrees. The outstanding weather seemed to have everyone in a good mood as a strong, enthusiastic crowd showed up ready to match an energetic team that seemed genuinely excited to be back on the field.
– The crowd for the day registered at 1,755 people. With this weather and a team that is increasingly enjoyable to watch, those numbers may only grow this weekend.
– On the injury front, the Rams have a handful of players not participating, most of whom are on the active version of the physically unable to perform list. TE Lance Kendricks, S Matt Daniels and DT Jermelle Cudjo have that designation. Coach Jeff Fisher said he didn’t expect any of that trio to miss extended time. All will count against the 90-man roster but are eligible to come off at any time.
“Those situations are a bit different,” Fisher said. “I wouldn’t expect to see them on the field at least for the next couple of weeks.”
– Rookie OL Barrett Jones is also on the PUP list but listed under the non-football injury designation. The designation is different but the rules are essentially the same. The only difference is that Jones didn’t suffer his injury as a member of the Rams. He, too, is expected back in a relatively short period of time.
– Undrafted rookie OT Braden Brown did not practice Thursday as he battles a back ailment. TE Philip Lutzenkirchen also sat out the practice.
– As was reported yesterday, G Rokevious Watkins has been released. Watkins again reported to camp out of shape, missing his designated target weight. Fisher addressed the issue after practice:
“We have reporting requirements as everybody does and he didn’t meet them,” Fisher said. “He had difficulty last year with it, he had difficulty with it this year so we just thought it was better off cutting him loose.”
– Watkins had maintained in the spring that he would be reporting back in shape this year after working hard to recover from a foot injury and get in shape for the offseason conditioning program. He had once been considered a candidate for a starting guard job but had been working almost exclusively as a backup to RG Harvey Dahl in the spring.
“It was disappointing,” Fisher said. “He’s got ability to play. He is just struggling with some things.”
– As for the happenings on the field, the Rams were quick to show off some of the improved speed they have at a variety of positions. Receiver Tavon Austin drew oohs and aahs after making a catch in the flat, changing direction quickly and darting down the field. More impressive was a deep ball he caught down the left seam from Sam Bradford later in the action.
– Austin’s fellow rookie wideout Stedman Bailey followed with a deep ball catch of his own.
– After working the short and intermediate game early in 7 on 7 passing drills, the Rams wasted no time in uncorking the deep game as Bradford fired long balls for Austin, Bailey and Chris Givens. Givens narrowly missed a catch on a deep pass (though the play likely would have been a sack in a game), but drew applause from the crowd for his effort as he layed out for the ball and just couldn’t quite come up with it.
– The Rams are not in pads yet per league rules but likely will put pads on for the first time early next week.
– As for the offense, Rams MLB James Laurinaitis said he could see a noticeable difference in the group as a whole as the first team offense and defense squared off in practice. Laurinaitis specifically cited the speed and the multiple formations the Rams used as reasons why the offense is much harder to defend than it has been in the past. Laurinaitis said the matchup problems the offense could create is exciting to see and said he’s looking forward to seeing QB Sam Bradford “sling it around” like he did in his Oklahoma days.
– DE Chris Long also spoke to the media and talked about now being the team’s longest tenured player as he enters his sixth year in the league. First and foremost, Long takes pride in being the guy who has been a Ram the longest but he also acknowledged that he still looks to learn from all of his teammates, particularly the ones who have been in the league longer than he has.
– On the topic of being around for a long time, Long said he truly believes this is the year for a turnaround, offering that “I know this is it. I know we are going to turn it around.”
– Long also is enjoying his veteran status along with the rest of his teammates who have at least four years in the league. Those players get to stay in their own homes and sleep in their own beds during camp. Fisher doesn’t hesitate to take care of his players and Long mentioned that it doesn’t go unnoticed or unappreciated. Long said he believes the way Fisher runs camp is more productive and more conducive to daily improvement rather than just making it an unbearable grind.
– Tempers flared a bit early when Givens and CB Janoris Jenkins got tangled up in an early passing drill. Nothing came of it but an early sign that this team is ready to go, perhaps.
– Bradford again discussed embracing more of a leadership role this year with RB Steven Jackson gone and echoed Long’s sentiments about the way camp operates. He also pointed to the obvious improvement in speed at all positions.
– TE Jared Cook picked up where he left off during the spring, working the middle of the field with his usual smooth routes and long strides. Something about Cook just makes you want to throw him an alley-oop. There will likely be plenty of those tossed his way.
– Much like the spring, Chris Williams got the bulk of the work at left guard. He and Shelley Smith are expected to battle there.
– Brian Quick seemed to have a solid day, making the majority of the catches on balls thrown his way.
– Fisher said this group may not have a “bellcow” like Jackson was at running back but he likes the competition that figures to form there. Daryl Richardson and Isaiah Pead got first dibs on the first-team work Thursday.
– The Rams are back at it tomorrow with another 3:30 p.m. practice which is open to the public. Thanks for reading.
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